Monday, June 12, 2017

More to life than just craft breweries....

 And, that, of course, would be fine dining.

Actually, at the Piccolo Finale in Hampton Park last Saturday, I opted to stand in line for two hotdogs.

Naturally, I saw the bacon sign and did head toward that food truck.

 But, instead, I was swayed by the other sign that said $5 for a hot dog, chips and a cola.

I am aware that a hot dog has never topped the list of healthy foods so I instead got two BRATS, packets of mustard and sweet pickle relish and some Fritter Corn Chips.

I didn't need a beverage.

My small cache of cold beer sat at my feet as I relaxed in my folding chair.

I looked around and straight ahead was a fellow wearing not only a Holy City Brewing Company t-shirt but one that featured the very beer I was sipping.

I tried to get MY beer in the same shot with the Chucktown Follicle Brown design he had on his back.

But, my arm wasn't long enough to include both items, zoom in and keep all of it in focus.

So I snapped this and resumed concentrating on my beer.

And enjoyed scanning the crowd sprawled on blankets, in chairs, and wandering all around me.

It appeared that each lady tending to a baby was also very pregnant.

That would be having twins the hard way.

Some childhood memories flooded my brain.

Children were tossing pieces of white bread to the gathered ducks in a nearby pond.

We have photos of my younger brother at Hampton Park doing that when he was about 7 or 8 years old.

I can't recall but Mom must have brought along a half-filled loaf of stale bread in its wrapper for just that purpose.

Nice memory.

Overhead, I saw half a dozen confused seagulls flapping and circling us overhead.

Guess they are not limited to the beaches or the last few K-Mart shopping centers parking lots, fighting over discarded bags of French fries.

This starry-eyed youngster was in line for some hot dogs.

I think she was giving me the eye as I raised my camera to snap this scene.

Hard to tell for sure though with her sunglasses covering her eyes.

I believe the Mom bought the $5 Special, aware that she would have to share.

Or, maybe she bought two Specials.

That's what I would have done, with leftovers for each.

My brats tasted good and two was about right for me.

Well, for now.

We were in the back of most of the crowd, facing the large tent that was the main stage.

The opening group played as we were getting settled and then, a large band - from Louisiana - started setting up.

To my right, by the pond and bridge, I saw a young man and his date. sitting on two of the 250 MUSC colorful rental bikes.

They had been recently donated to the city and proudly nicknamed Holy Spokes.

These are really high-tech and apparently, you use your SmartPhone to log into an onboard computer to open your two-wheeler account.

Believe I read it's $8 for an hour (hope they aren't paying that all afternoon!) but also can be rented for 15-days or even a month at a time.

The best part - if needed - is it can be located and recovered using its GPS chip.

Handy for the police or for a forgetful rider/renter.

There WAS a booth selling beer which surprised me at a city function.

But I had brought a few cans of a beer I liked just in case.

The sun was shining, the shade was provided by the ample trees, and there was a nice  steady cooling breeze (no bugs!).

I eased on back, enjoying the Cajun Indie band singing in French with at least 5 or 6 band members on stage.

 Speaking of the band Sweet Crude, here is a photo I snapped of the two leaders, Alexis Marceaux and Sam Craft, as they were performing.

Agreed, not a great shot, but it was taken from my seat at the back of the crowd!

This would not be hard for a fancy - and expensive - DSLR with its array of lenses.

But I snapped this with my $200 Canon camera that is very lightweight and small enough to fit into my shirt pocket.

Yes, I usually have it with me and enjoy its 20x zoom lens. This shot was about 40x zoom, combining optical and digital elements.

I did walk over for a closer view earlier and noted the parquet wooden dance floor that had been set up in front of the stage, along with several rows of black folding metal chairs.

That would be handy if you forgot your blanket or a folding beach chair.

And, since beer was being sold, looks like everything was well thought out and covered.

Hmmmm. Too late to get me another bratwurst.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Bet you're glad I didn't talk about craft breweries again.

Well, there's always tomorrow....
and my re-visit to Revelry Brewing Company.

The outside entertainment was provided by Lorra Amos of Sunflowers and Sin,

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Oops. Some local brewery visits I overlooked...

 Lo-Fi was among the three North Charleston breweries that I visited during my fourth mini-tour that, for several reasons, never made it into my blog.

Until Now.

One excuse: May The 4th Be With You was the day I picked to go taste some brewed product.

You know, May 4 and the big Star Wars hoopla, was going on.

My brewery tour "report" was sort of lost in the shuffle.

(This was a vastly different calendar event than the famed April 20th celebration.
That one involved "munchies" by avid celebrants. Unless they forgot about it until the next day.)

So finding the low-key LO-FI Brewing Company was the first challenge that Thursday afternoon/evening.

They were pretty vague about where it was located so it was somewhat of a challenge for my phone's GPS.

Came out Spruill Avenue and finally spotted a banner hanging on a fence about where it turned into Meeting Street Road.

The brewery was among a cluster of well-worn industrial buildings and I parked near the wide open doors and walked into the spacious setting.

The first thing I noticed was the bartender wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. OK, so the party had begun!

This site was a bit different from the others as I was used to ordering a flight so I could sample several different brews.

Not here at the Lo-Fi Brewing Company.

It was explained they did not have the small 4 oz. glasses nor the cute wooden tray that holds them.

Well, time to adapt. I asked what the most often requested, the most popular beer that they offered?

Then, I settled on a stool and sipped a pint of Glitter Pony, an 8.4 ABV Belgian Trippel, named, I suppose, for their symbol, the colorful unicorn.

My North Charleston brewery number two was just a short drive to Fatty's Beer Works, at 1436 Meeting Street Road.

The Star Wars effect was also obvious here and the celebration had started quite a while before we got there.

Relatively new (Fatty's opened in March), Davis McLain, the owner is personable and very welcoming.

You are not a stranger to him, just a friend he had not met yet. David proudly handed out stickers of the three labeled cans they produce - so far.

It was very obvious that dogs were welcomed here and many were lounging around, lapping at filled water bowls.

Several parked bikes showed the riders had found a handy pedal break spot along Meeting Street Road to take a break.

After finding this hospitable open space, I was pleased to hear the owner espouse that these new additions in a close proximity would be good promotable features of North Charleston.

David added his thought that Fatty's was a nice and tasty alternative to driving all the way downtown.

Perhaps this was a way to help alleviate some of the trafic.

Both of these breweries are promoting and expanding distribution of their cold and frosty products.

I recently sipped a Glitter Pony at YoBo Cantina in Park Circle so the word - and the product - is out there now in circulation.

The third brewery in North Charleston to be explored on this mini-crawl also offers a GPS challenge.

For example, the name itself might have you heading in the wrong direction! This is NOT east of the Cooper.

Cooper River Brewing Company opened as a 15 barrel brewhouse and taproom in the Upper Peninsula at 2201 Mechanic Street, Suite B.

The map on my phone's GPS showed more twists and turns than a  winding mountain road.

But, the lady's calm voice kept encouraging me that I WAS heading in the right direction.

And we did find it, pulled up, parked and went inside to the place that features a symbol an oft-sighted familiar bird, but here it is called the Brew Heron.

Caught the Managing Director and Co-Founder, Dustin Pait, behind the bar and he gave us a hearty welcome and poured us a delicious 4-sample flight of their beers.

Dustin said CRBC opened two years ago when three friends realized their dream. It even includes an outdoor courtyard to add a back porch feeling they all loved so much.

Jamie Martin had enjoyed touring breweries, Michael Gates and his wife had been home brewing for years and Dustin was known for having a nose for an excellent IPA.

Not surprising, the choices include a Summer IPA, an Inaugural IPA and a West Coast IPA.

There also is a Stout, Porter (Nitro), Golden Ale, Orange Infused Blonde Ale, ESB and a Watermelon Wheat.

Sorry about the delay in presenting one of our 3-breweries mini-tour facts, figures, and photos.

(Click on the pictures and links for more details).

I also went back to the Rusty Bull on Montague Avenue to check out its Grand Opening.

Quite a crowd and a fun time was had by all!

Thanks for tagging along.

We'll keep this up as newcomers open.

Enjoy a cool one!

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Craft beers and a road trip to Atlanta...

 I know my way around quite a few craft breweries here in Charleston so I "took it on the road" to Georgia's capital for a look at two there.

Did some research and it appears we have at least twice as many Crafters here than there are in Atlanta.

Hmm, would have thought just the opposite.

I earned my wings at Blue Tarp Brewing, in Decatur.

Saw the painting on the wall,  just sauntered over and posed as I sipped.

Then I saw other backdrops and the suggestion that they would appreciate people posting their photos online.

Another very large chalk board tried to give a quick overview of how the state of Georgia always requires a "tour."

Then you buy beer tickets or wooden coins to choose what you want to drink and in what prescribed quantities.

Blue Tarp Brewing Company's Founder & Brewmaster Tom Stahl was interested in my observations of the Craft scene in Charleston as he attempted to explain that a TOUR is the Georgia focal point at all the breweries and that allows him to sell brews in proper portions so visitors could  enjoy some cold suds.

Then Tom excused himself to go lead an actual tour.

I snapped a picture of the blackboard poster so I could refer to the necessary optional steps that are offered.

I certainly wanted to obey the law.

This was our second stop after buying wooden "nickels" and hoisting a few at 3 Taverns Craft Beers.

It had a neat loft upstairs where you could look out over the tasting room and watch the line form, move forward and then the people would go sit back down inside or step out on the patio to sip 6 ounces or whatever choices they had made.

Per the information posted, people were also leaving with 6-packs and two sizes of Growlers, 64 ounces or 32 ozs.

Then, shuffle up to the serving area again and hand over wooden tokens.

It was a jovial crowd and we had a nice conversation with a husband and wife who had come up from Lexington, a suburb of Columbia.

Friday night we were among 6,000 other fans of Chris Rock, performing his comedy at the Fabulous Fox Theater.

Rock had booked the Fox  for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

That's pleasing many thousands of his fans.

We decided to check out a few craft breweries the next day while we were in town.

Tasting in moderation of course, before driving back home.

We used GPS to find our way around from the Hyatt, and stopped for a delightful brunch at one of the Flying Biscuit Cafe near Little 5 Points.

They are scattered around Atlanta and we appreciated that the Saturday traffic was light before the Memorial Day weekend.

On the drive back to Charleston, we noticed that the Starbucks' symbol had been added to Interstate markers showing a variety of food close by at the next exit.

Didn't remember seeing that addition before among all the Waffle House and Huddle House signs.

As we traveled around Atlanta neighborhoods, the GPS lady managed to direct us through a tunnel beneath train tracks - I think - covered with colorful graffiti.

As we moved slowly through, I caught a photo of some young men in the process of adding their visual messages.

This was turning into a multiple-treat capital city tour.

My eyes and camera were filled with images that I wanted to share.

This was to make up for the NO CAMERA evening the night before with Chris Rock.

Here is a scattering of images I collected during this overnight road trip.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for riding along and sipping a few tasty beers.

I have visited just about all 20 breweries here in Charleston, North Charleston, West Ashley, Mt. Pleasant, James and Johns Island, and the only one in

A new one is about to open named Pawleys Island, right here in Charleston and another in Park Circle.

Cooper River Brewing Company is one you really need to use GPS to find.

It's worth it they all are.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My third craft mini-brewery crawl...

 I take drinking a tasty beer seriously.

My credentials as a beery knowledgable guy involved flying to Dublin, Ireland and stopping at the main Guinness Storehouse to be entertained and educated in how to pour a perfect pint.

I could have fooled around, drinking my many "mistakes," but I opted to get it right the first time.

There are 6 steps and too often in bars I spot errors but usually bite my tongue.

Then I just sadly drink the not-exactly-perfect pint.

If I am having a second pint, I do speak up and explain how I was shown by Guinness experts to pull the tap forward for the pour...wait 60 seconds...and then push the tap handle back to complete the pour.

The first pour, with the glass tilted 45 degrees,  energizes the nitrogen, creating literally millions of bubbles.

After it settles, start the second pour at 50% volume so as not to damage the head that has formed, holding the glass upright.

Some appreciate my wisdom while others continue in their error-filled way. Sigh.

I also had discovered cask ales in London and Scotland, but now, here, I am concentrating on our fine local craft brews.

Twisted Cypress is an excellent example of sweat equity producing a brewery long on interest and ability. And taste.

The facility on Sam Rittenberg is a former Moose Lodge that was empty for a decade and fated to be a parking lot.

It was handmade-over by three dedicated brewers.

Reconstruction of the building allowed the freedom to make it just the way they felt it needed to be.

Fitting for the first microbrewery in West Ashley, Mayor John Tecklenburg cut the ribbon before 300 eager coffee and craft beers fans.

It's a coffee house in the mornings and brews later in the day.

I have learned a lot in this craft beer blitz.

So many variations of the physical property.

Wide differences in the number and size of steel vats and tanks.

A wide lawn-like grassy plot out back of Twisted Cypress.

A view of the Ashley River from the deck of Freehouse Brewery.

New developments and changes on allowing dogs at breweries.

Here's an interesting - and unusual view looking down on the bar at the new location of  Frothy Beard Brewing in West Ashley.

Made the move from North Charleston to West Ashley about two months ago.

The bearded ones now have the largest brewery taproom in Charleston.

The "loft" above the bar is great for people watching.

Turn around up there and look down on the rows of shiny new barrel tanks.

The demand kept growing so the expansion came months before they were planned to be added.

There was a Zombie Bob's Pizza truck out in the spacious parking lot but I was pleased to see they also have an inside table-service layout.

The aroma is very enticing and it's family friendly in the high-ceiling taproom.

Some will notice there were only two microbreweries in this posting.

The "standard" flight of 4-glasses of sample beers - some pretty high gravity - has now grown to a 7 sample offering at Twisted Cypress.

Moderation had me stop at 4 + 7 for the evening.

(Click on the photo and links for more details.)

Thanks for tagging along on my three mini-brewery craft beer tours.

I added one solo trip to Oak Road in Summerville where you can have a $2.00-$2.50 sample of every beer they make.

"Flights" of fancy indeed.

Was just reminded by a buddy that North Charleston  soon will be the home of Pawleys Island Brewing Company.

Maybe I'll be invited for a sneak peek?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Stretching removes wrinkles.........

 I suspect I am not the first person to have wall-to-wall carpet "relax" and lose tension.

When that happens, a "long ridge" wrinkle rises and slowly grows longer and larger.

The cause usually is not having it installed tight enough.

The cure is to have a flooring pro come by and re-stretch it.

He came by yesterday and assured me we did not have to empty the three affected rooms of all the furniture.

Well, that was good news!

Some of it was still in the same place it was placed on the newly-installed carpeting about 10 - 11 years ago.

My desk, for example, needed only to be swiveled sideways. The rest was simply moved away from the affected areas.

Installers use a clever device called a Kick Tool that grips the carpet and then a strong kick with a knee pulls it toward the wall.

Mike's right knee probably had calluses from doing this for many, many years.

I would be crippled if I tried that move even once.

As he moved two bookcases filled with CDs, I remembered that I had NOT moved them when I re-painted the room.

No problem. Mike moved them back in place after tightening the carpet.

Mike was here about 2.5 hours and when he finished, the carpet wrinkles had been re-stretched and smoothed out.

He said my carpeting was in good shape but he might have just said that when he found out I had bought it from the place where he used to work.

And no, he had not done the initial installation!

He's retired now and keeps in shape by pounding his knee into the gripping tool and slamming carpet up against the wall as often as he can.

Mike showed me that actual inches were removed from the edges after he nudged it forward to take up the slack.

He then cut that excess off with his carpet knife (Well, duh, that's what I've always called it) er, his utility knife then tamped it down onto the perimeter tack strips for a tight fit.

We rolled and toted back the furniture that had been moved out of his way.

We swung the desk back in place and I look forward to redoing the various plugs and connections that had been taken loose.

(That was an easy task because he was mindful of that when he had moved it.

This was not his" first rodeo, "after all.
Reach Mike the wrinkle-remover at mikew8638@ or (843) 926-5781.

(Click on the links and photos for more details.)

I had visited a brother-in-law's home and noticed he had several areas of wrinkles (loosened) carpet in his Great Room. Then, later, at a Thanksgiving meal, I saw they were gone.

I should have asked then if he had replaced the carpet.

Thanks for stopping by to help move furniture and learn how to remove wrinkles.


Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, May 12, 2017

Found the BEST brewery in Summerville...

 Well, technically, Oak Road is the ONLY brewery in Summerville.

As I sipped one of the 10 beers posted on the menu behind the bar, I was chatting with Trent Nisbet who gave me the brief history of the brewery at 108 East 3rd North Street.

When he agreed with me that it was the only one, I had suggested they proclaim itself as the BEST Brewery in town.

When the CEO Benjamin Bankey came in a little bit later, he was told of my suggestion and agreed that would be good marketing.

"We could play around with that as we prepare for our 2nd Anniversary next month in June, he allowed.

I had a good chat with the knowledgeable and affable BrewMaster Brian Cox who explained a clear idea of what he was brewing in his collection of 30-gallon vats.

While I was not aware the brewery had opened, I HAD visited next door 2-3 years ago at the next door fun Coastal Coffee Roasters that featured "Food+Drinks + Music and so much more."

Now, of course, the sign has added beer and wine.

It's a friendly family place and today a food truck was parked out front offering a different take on a pizza.

CEO Bankey said all three entities are under one roof just off Main Street and all the partners work hard to make the whole operation a success.

I was searching for the coffee place I remembered and didn't realize the brewery was there.

My buddy had just responded to my email asking for the brewery's name and address when I turned off Main and saw it. Very glad I did. It was a pleasant stop and brought the number of breweries I had visited in this series to an even dozen.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.) This was a rare daytime visit to check out where beer is made.

The good news is that Oak Road is looking at adding Wednesday and Sunday to it open hours - probably by the anniversary celebration in June.

Makes sense to stop by, sample some tasty brews and not have a long drive back from downtown Charleston. Makes a LOT of sense.

And, be sure to see some brewery humor at the water fountain hanging on the wall.

 They are very busy making some fine beers and if they want to offer an opinion about how another national brand tastes, sounds fair to me.

(I used to drink Ultra a long, long time ago.)

But then, Craft Beers started appearing on the scene and the taste difference was VERY apparent.

Thanks, Brewmeisters!

Labels: , , , , , ,